OFF WE GO — the new Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season kicked off at the weekend and what a welcome return to the fields of play after all the hulabaloo of the recent Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) elections.
In another 29 match days the country will have a new champion, but lots of things will happen in the meantime, both on and off the pitch and it is some of these happenings that may take the limelight rather than the championship race.
Delta Beverages, through the Castle Lager brand, have entered into a three-year sponsorship deal with the PSL for the national championship and they surely safeguard this social corporate investment as events on and off the pitch have an effect on their image as the financiers of the league.
The beer monopolist has also brought back the Chibuku Trophy, a move that has nostalgically rolled back the years for some of us and the likes of Douglas “British” Mloyi!
It is this sponsorship deal that all stakeholders in local football should always think of whenever they embark on some action, including what they utter. This includes football and sports columnists as well as sportswriters, administrators, players and even die-hard supporters who traverse the country in support of their chosen football teams.
It is very easy to soil the image of football and, in the process, put off both current sponsors and other corporate players who may one day be persuaded to pour their money into football.
First and foremost, those of us who attend matches, every match day, should ensure that our behaviour is of an acceptable standard and uphold the respect of the family — in my church the family is a very important unit which deserves respect at all times and is in fact, central to the general development of the human race.
In other words, some of the despicable utterances we take for granted at soccer matches should be done away with so that those who prefer to be always with their families are able to attend soccer matches without fearing that there would be some vulgar language spewed all over around them.
Yes, Castle Lager is the beer behind the cheer in our football at present, but this does not and will never justify going to football matches dead drunk, so intoxicated that one is a nuisance all the 90 or so minutes of the match.
Taking alcohol into football matches is not good and even Delta Beverages surely do not support the smuggling into match venues of their Castle and Chibuku beers. Very often it is the people that are high on beer that start all sorts of problems, violence included, at soccer matches.
Some of us get some kick out of “beating” the system and we take pride in boasting that we have smuggled alcohol into a match venue. This is immature and is not worthy of anyone who calls himself or herself a dignified individual.
Unfortunately even some of those we treat with a lot of respect indulge in such wayward behaviour and even take pride in such anti-social feats. We should not b be policed at every turn — it should just be in us to hold moral and social standards that are beyond question and behave in a manner we would never be ashamed of outside the football stadium.
Administrators, especially referees, have a key role to play in any season and it is worth reminding them that they carry a lot of responsibility when they perform their duties. This is especially true of referees — some of the violence that we witness at football matches is a direct result of the actions of referees.
Yes, there is never justification, in the end, for any violence at a football match, but referees must always remember that there are some of us who are prone to violence and are always trying to find an excuse for it.
Simpletons like some of us can never school referees in their work — we simply pray that at all times we must have the confidence that the man in the centre is even-handed and fair to both sets of players on the pitch.
Disciplinary issues always arise, especially in football matches. The best way to address them is to resolve them within a reasonable time so that all parties involved are not left hanging for unnecessarily long periods of time. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.
Let us this season make it a commitment that we shall not cause our respective clubs to be fined or sanctioned. If we are true supporters of a club we will police each other and ensure that we all stay within acceptable norms and standards of good behaviour.